Star Trek Catan – Questions and Answers
Why isn't Star Trek Catan a remake of The Starfarers of Catan? Why do all players play on the side of the Federation? Why are there so many Enterprise starships? Why is the robber a Klingon?
These and many similar questions have kept Catanians and Trekkers busy since first details about the game were made public after Star Trek Catan was announced (see also here).
Below, I would like to answer some of these questions. First, the question that is of particular interest to Catanians:
Why did we adapt The Settlers of Catan base game to the Star Trek universe if a science-fiction Catan (which has been out of print for years) already exists?
There are several reasons for this – the main reason being that this time we didn't want to create a new or stand-alone Catan game in the Star Trek universe, similar to „Anno 1701“. We intentionally wanted to adapt the Catan base game to the Star Trek universe – giving well-known, proven, and relatively simple game mechanics an entirely new context.
Of course, Starfarers would have been appropriate, but it is a notably more challenging and longer game. After all, there's a certain intention behind combining a brand such as Catan with another brand such as Star Trek: you want to reach people the Catan games haven't been able to reach so far.
We didn't want to scare away people whose interest in Star Trek Catan is based on the Star Trek brand by offering them a Catan game that is too expansive. Another aspect is that the German edition of Starfarers wasn't an inexpensive game, and redesigning it for Star Trek definitely would not have made it more budget-friendly – in fact, the German edition of Star Trek Catan would have been considerably more pricey than the Starfarers in 1999. And that might have been even more of a deterrent than a game that is too lengthy, at least as far as the German edition is concerned. So, Starfarers wasn't an option for us.
Why do all players play “on the same side” now, as the Federation? Wouldn't it have made more sense to let them compete with each other as the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and ... perhaps the Cardassians or the Ferengi?
This question indeed surprised me. As a matter of fact, it isn't always love, peace, and harmony between the races within the Federation. There are countless examples of conflicts within the Federation that involve intrigue, power, riches, and ideology. And even though economic interests are rarely the subject of the series (and if they are, they play a minor part), they definitely do exist. For this reason, it even is self-evident that the players act as different members of the Federation. After all, they all settle within the same space.
The idea that Klingons, Romulans, and the Federation peacefully coexist in one space sector is almost absurd, given that we are in a time of cold war between Klingons and the Federation (the Khitomer Accords are still in the future), with a neutral zone and no diplomatic contact with the Romulans. And Klingons, Romulans, and the Federation together on one planet? That didn't work out on Nimbus III either …
The last question concerns the Klingons:
Why do they – and not the Ferengi or the Orion-Syndicate, for example – represent “the robber”?
Well, it's easy to rule out the Ferengi. The first official contact with them isn't made until 2364 by Captain Picard, even though Captain Archer also had an encounter with the Ferengi once. Therefore, in the 23rd century the Ferengi are irrelevant.
Essentially the same also applies to the Orion Syndicate. Admittedly, the Orion Syndicate would have been a good fit, even if it only operates on the borders of Federation space. Although there is contact with the Orions during the Kirk era (the term "Orion Syndicate" isn't introduced until later), it is undeniable that the Klingons are the major enemy of this time. The term "Orion Syndicate" only means something to people with a lot of insider knowledge – and even many of them will wonder whether the Orion Syndicate already existed before the 24th century. Klingons, however, are well-known by everyone.
Are there still unanswered questions? I'll be glad to receive them as comments to this blog post and will answer them either personally or, if the questions are of general interest, in the context of another blog post.